is a form of government in which a deity is the source from which all authority derives. The Oxford English Dictionary
has this definition:
A form of government in which God (or a deity) is recognized as the king or immediate ruler, and his laws are taken as the statute-book
of the kingdom, these laws being usually administered by a priestly order as his ministers and agents; hence (loosely) a system of government by a sacerdotal order, claiming a divine commission; also, a state so governed.
is a situation where the religious leaders assume
a leading role in the state, but do not claim that they are instruments of divine revelation. For example, the prince-bishops of the European Middle Ages, where the bishop was also the temporal ruler. Such a state may use the administrative hierarchy
of the religion for its own administration, or it may have two 'arms
' — administrators and clergy
— but with the state administrative hierarchy subordinate
to the religious hierarchy
The papacy in the Papal States occupied a middle ground between theocracy and ecclesiocracy, since the pope
did not claim he was a prophet who received revelation from God and translated it into civil law.
Religiously endorsed monarchies fall between theocracy and ecclesiocracy, according to the relative strengths of the religious and political organs.
Most forms of theocracy are oligarchic in nature, involving rule of the many by the few, some of whom so anointed under claim of divine commission.